The microblogging site, Twitter, has been popular for some time. However, thanks to a high profile contest between Ashton Kutcher and CNN as well as Oprah Winfrey jumping on board, Twitter is poised to explode. With popularity comes an unpleasant side effect: name squatters.
Name squatters had their heyday in the early days of the dot com industry and are re-emerging to take advantage of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. For example, let’s say you own a prominent business or brand such as Dynamo. But what if the twitter name “Dynamo” is already taken? Do you really want to settle for “Dynamo123” or some other variation? In Oprah’s case, she managed to obtain the Twitter.com/Oprah name, but what about you? Is your Twitter name taken? Do you want to settle for Twitter.com/YourName123?
Twitter officially prohibits name squatting and the selling of user names. In addition, Twitter has rules covering impersonation and trademarks, so celebrities and trademarked brands have some recourse. However, if you are a small business or a regular person, your desired Twitter name may be taken. Twitter is a huge community and it’s entirely possible that another person or company with the same name as you beat you to it.
Businesses, politicians, and celebrities are starting to see the value of twittering and having a presence on this microblog site will likely be as important to your organization as a Web site. While you may not be ready yet, you may be in a month or two. Head on over to Twitter.com and find out if your name is available. If so, even if you aren’t ready to jump in and join the Twitter craze, sign up and make sure that you get the name you want. This will ensure that a name squatter won’t come along and take your name.
You will have six months to become an active Twitter user. If you are not active over the course of those six months, you will be considered “inactive” and your account will automatically be deleted when you reach the nine months of inactivity point.
One way to ensure that your Twitter account is active is to set up an RSS feed that populates your Twitter account with relevant tweets. For example, if you own a Web site, use the Web site’s feed and a Twitter feed service such as Twitterfeed.com to automatically post tweets on your behalf. Not only will this keep your Twitter name active, it will drive traffic to your Web site.
Twitter is fast becoming a must in the social networking world. While Twitter name squatting is prohibited, there’s nothing wrong with securing your own Twitter name if you intend to use the Twitter social network eventually.